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Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report

Date: 06 November 2017
Period Covered: 00:00hrs 30 OCT 2017 to 12:00hrs 04 NOV 2017 (GMT+8)


Overall, this week has seen a normal level of activity return to Thailand in the immediate wake of the Royal Funeral and Cremation. With the conclusion of October there now appears to be a baseline in terms of incidents per day; a normal amount of activity in Thailand in coming months will POSSIBLY be between 4-6 Incidents/Day. Judging by the number of incidents which have happened this week, November is POSSIBLY going to see a normal level of activity. As for what types of incidents will occur, the two cyclones currently near Thailand will PROBABLY see flooding continue as well as other effects (refer to the âQUICK ASSESSMENTâ) as well as Crime and âOtherâ incidents.

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N.B. â Feedback from an experienced professional has outlined that Thailand’s reporting regions are more accurately represented with the new boundaries drawn above. The reporting regions have been adjusted in order to align future intelligence reports with how the location of events shape out on the ground.

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This Intelligence Report aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the key incidents and analyse what it means for the country. Over this period there have been 52 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform; an increase from last week.
This week has seen October finish with a week which pushed it to the third highest level of activity in terms of incidents per day, with the main contributors to this level of activity continuing to be Criminality, Hazards and Other types of incidents which are also the top three most frequent incidents that occur in Thailand. The rate of incidents per day even increased from 4.16 to 5.29; an increase which appears to have occurred after the Royal Funeral and Cremation. In addition, incidents in Thailand have continued to be concentrated in Bangkok, followed by the South, North-East and Central reporting regions (PRATTEN 2017f).
COMMENT. Last weekâs report assessed that âwith the Royal Funeral and Cremation concluded, it is POSSIBLE that other issues and recurring incidents across the country will begin to be noticed more frequently. This is particularly the case with progress towards the return of democratic rule in Thailand (PRATTEN 2017f).â At first glance, this week has seen October finish and November start with that assessment being the case. COMMENT ENDS.

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1. 30 OCT â 06 NOV 2017: Floods and Cyclones
The week began with 17 provinces in the Central and North-East of Thailand remaining flooded. However, efforts to drain the floodwater and the change of season appear to have drastically reduced the number of provinces being flooded, with all of these areas expected to drain the floodwater over the next few weeks (McCabe and Harrington, 2017).
COMMENT. These reports came before further monitoring detected Tropical Cyclone DAMREY-17 â TC DAMREY-17 â which is off the coast of Vietnam at the time of this report. TC DAMREY-17 is assessed to have a high humanitarian impact based on the Maximum sustained wind speed and the affected population and their vulnerability. While TC DMAREY-17 appears that it will weaken in Cambodia â making the high level of damage limited to Vietnam and Cambodia at this time â the conditions in Thailand at the moment after months of consecutive flooding will mean that flooding will soon return to levels seen on 30 OCT 2017 or worse as Thailand has been previously affected by cyclones â such as TC DOKSURI-17 – in neighbouring countries and the terrain in these parts of Thailand makes it prone to flooding (PRATTEN 2017h, PRATTEN 2017d) (PRATTEN 2017b).
This week has also seen the potential for flood hazards increase due to the heavy rainfall created by TC DAMREY-17; prompting the Thai Meteorological Department to issue a weather warning Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Krabi, Trang and Satun provinces. Also â as of 14:00hrs 06 NOV 2017 â TC TWENTYNINE-17 has formed in the Gulf of Thailand. This cyclone is assessed to pose little risk in terms of wind strength (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Joint Research Centre, 2017).
COMMENT. The emergence of TC TWENTYNINE-17 would make the occurrence of flash floods a greater possibility as it can supplement the heavy rainfall which has already been caused by TC DAMREY-17. Also, this area of Thailand is close to the popular tourist destination of Phuket; with its tourist season about to start. The increase in wind conditions will make entry/exit in this part of Thailand by place much more difficult. COMMENT ENDS.
QUICK ASSESSMENT: These weather conditions make it PROBABLE that flooding will revert to levels shown on 30 OCT 2017 with the South also experiencing floods. With the weather conditions created by TC DAMREY-17 and TC TWENTYNINE-17, not only will floods affect road transport and also lead to POSSIBLE landslides but it is POSSIBLE that entry/exit by air will be limited if not unavailable for 24-72hours.

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2. 31 OCT â 04 NOV 2017: A Return to Politics
With the Royal Funeral and Cremation now complete, there has been a return to focussing on Thai politics; particularly on Thailandâs return to democracy. On 30 OCT 2017, the Foreign Ministry revoked four passports belonging to former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after the police requested their revocation after she failed to make an appeal within 30 days of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions’ ruling to sentence her in absentia to 5 years prison for her role in her governmentâs rice pledging scheme. With a new law covering political crimes dictating that her conviction and sentence will remain in place for perpetuity, she is now a lifelong fugitive if she does not return. The only other avenue for Yingluck, or her brother and fellow fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra, to be cleared would be a royal pardon, but those have historically been reserved for convicts who have served significant portions of their sentences.
COMMENT. Without any possibility of returning â along with further charges being laid against both Yingluck and Thaksin in previous weeks â the Pheu Thai Party will need to find a new leader for the next election. However, in recent weeks the Department of Special Investigation has charged â but not arrested â Thaksinâs son Panthongtae Shinawatra for money laundering (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). With the chances of either Thaksin or Yingluck returning to Thailand appearing to be extremely slim, it would appear to be an ideal time to pursue criminal cases against other Shinawatra family members as this family has a major influential role in the Pheu Thai Party (PRATTEN 2017c). COMMENT ENDS.
On 31 OCT 2017, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha stated to the media the government will not lift the ban on political activities until calm and order are restored. However, the ban would eventually be lifted to allow parties to resume activities in compliance with the constitution and election-related laws. The general election, tentatively scheduled for November 2018, can only be held after the organic bill on the election of MPs is enacted and the new Election Commission (EC) members are chosen, as they will put in place regulations to organise the election.
Finally, on 02 NOV 2017 the Organic Bill on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) â containing key changes including a deadline set for anti-graft probes â has been accepted for deliberation by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) in its first reading. The bill presented to the NLA stipulates that the time it takes for the NACC to conduct an anti-graft probe will be limited to two years, as opposed to the current limitless time frame. The NLA accepted the bill with a unanimous vote of 200 and four abstentions. A 35-member committee will be set up in the next 58 days to scrutinise the bill on the second reading, according to NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.
COMMENT. Prior reporting featuring progress on the passage of Organic Laws indicates there are actually two which remain to come before the NLA that will allow the next election to be carried out. With the ban on political parties remaining in place, this would enable the government to ensure greater chances of having all other proposed Organic Laws to go before the NLA for deliberation, meaning that the final Organic Laws will have high chances of being the two for the next election. With these two laws looking like they will be the last to be deliberated and passed by the NLA, the government can ensure efforts to undermine the chances of another Shinawatra family member or close associate are as successful as possible (PRATTEN 2017g). COMMENT ENDS.
3. 01 NOV 2017: AMLO Accuses 19 People of Money Laundering
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has accused 19 people – including four senior monks and 13 officials of the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) – of laundering Bt140 million (US$4225778.20) allegedly obtained through temple fund embezzlement. AMLO representatives filed the complaint with the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) in Bangkok in relation to fund embezzlement at 23 Buddhist temples from 2012 to 2017. The alleged fraud involved budgets from the NOB for temple renovation, development, Buddhism promotion and education.
COMMENT. Current understanding of Thailand is that the country is built on three socio-political foundations â Buddhism, the Monarchy and the Nation â all of which have been frequent mentions over the past few months. There have been recurring themes in reporting relating to these three foundations. There is uncertainty with what lies ahead for the Monarchy as there has not been a succession to the throne for approximately 70 years; the Nation is currently going through a period of authoritarian rule â while such a scenario is actually a common occurrence in Thailand â these period is seeing policies which on the surface appear quite controversial while incidents relating to Buddhism in Thailand have featured numerous allegations and investigations surrounding the embezzlement of funds (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). Closer examination of these foundations of Thailand will need to be done and will thus be a focus for a future Snapshot report. COMMENT ENDS.
N.B. â There have been developments surrounding the Royal Crematorium at Sanam Luang and works being done at Don Mueang International Airport during this period. These will be the subject of imagery analysis to be conducted later this week.

5. 30 OCT 2017: One Tonne of Marijuana Seized in Nam Phong District, Khon Kaen
Highway police seized just over a tonne of marijuana – worth an estimated Bt20 million (US$603682.60) – from a pickup truck after the driver abandoned it during a pursuit. Police at a regular checkpoint had first stopped a pickup truck with a driver and passenger and found nothing suspicious, so the vehicle was allowed to continue. However, they noticed the vehicle had then stopped about 200 metres down the road and an occupant appeared to be using a mobile phone. Police immediately suspected the driver and passenger had been scouting the route. Another pickup truck containing the marijuana was found 10km down the road. Police seized the vehicle after the driver was unable to evade police and he abandoned the vehicle and fled.
The drug shipment was thought to have been smuggled from Vietnam through Laos and into Thailand via Nong Khai and was probably intended for distribution in Bangkok.
COMMENT. This seizure occurred alongside three other drug trafficking incidents in the North-East where marijuana, Ice and Yaba were found and seized. This one tonne shipment is the second incident where a shipment of this size has been found in this part of Thailand; this shipment though has been able to enter Thailand. The two incidents of one tonne shipments of marijuana are shown in the imagery below and have occurred in a context where this part of Thailand is overtaking the North reporting region as the most active part of the country for drug trafficking networks (PRATTEN 2017e, PRATTEN 2017a).
Of note, many of these incidents of drug trafficking feature the use of pickup trucks. While these vehicles appear to be readily available in Thailand, such vehicles would be of greater interest to police. COMMENT ENDS.

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This week has seen two incidents that â while significant â will require further monitoring to gain further insight. On 01 NOV 2017, there were reports of a large-scale protest occurring in Chon Buri over waiting times for mourners to pay their respects to the late King during the nationwide Funeral and Cremation ceremonies from 25-29 OCT 2017. On 02 NOV 2017, Forest Protecting Operation Centre (FPOC) law enforcement officials found a resort in a popular tourist attraction in the Wang Nam Khiao district, Nakhon Ratchasima province was used for planning sessions by a transnational network being investigated for logging Siamese rosewood. One of three loggers recently arrested reportedly confessed that the gang used the resort to plan its operations.
COMMENT. Protests and political gatherings of more than five people are prohibited in Thailand at this point in time. Furthermore, police and the military have previously been willing to use force to break up protests, making them an activity which those visiting the country will want to avoid (McCabe and Harrington, 2017, PRATTEN 2017c, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2017). Ironically, these protests are regarding the ability for people to pay their respects to the much-revered late monarch; a practice which is in line with the governmentâs efforts to ensure that respect for the monarchy is upheld. Cracking down on these protests has not yet occurred but would appear to be counter-productive for the government despite its laws on protests.
The incident surrounding the illegal logging network came shortly after the arrest of three Vietnamese nationals nearby and has since revealed that the illegal logging network operating in the area is the largest the Forest Protecting Operation Centre has come across. A brief examination of illegal logging incidents around Thailand has indicated that Siamese Rosewood is in high demand around South-Eat Asia; so much so there have been incidents since 01 MAY 2017 where illegal loggers have been willing and able to engage in small arms attacks against Forest Protecting Operation Centre personnel (McCabe and Harrington, 2017). These kinds of incidents appear to have occurred within forests in Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani provinces where forests are on the Thai-Cambodian border. COMMENT ENDS.

Overall, this week has seen a normal level of activity return to Thailand in the immediate wake of the Royal Funeral and Cremation. With the conclusion of October there now appears to be a baseline in terms of incidents per day; a normal amount of activity in Thailand in coming months will POSSIBLY be between 4-6 Incidents/Day. Judging by the number of incidents which have happened this week, November is POSSIBLY going to see a normal level of activity. As for what types of incidents will occur, the two cyclones currently near Thailand will PROBABLY see flooding continue as well as other effects (refer to the âQUICK ASSESSMENTâ) as well as Crime and âOtherâ incidents.
Incidents of Crime will continue throughout Thailand with Drug Trafficking PROBABLY being the main contributor. These kinds of incidents will POSSIBLY be concentrated in the North-East but it is POSSIBLE the Northern areas will begin to see an increase in drug trafficking activity. In these parts of Thailand, it may warrant avoiding the use of pickup trucks as these vehicles appear to be a favourite for traffickers which could thus attract police attention.
In Bangkok, âOtherâ types of incidents will PROBABLY increase as there is now a focus on the passage of Organic Laws and the upcoming elections intended for next year. Over the next few weeks, it is POSSIBLE there will be additional Organic Laws brought before the NLA for deliberation; POSSIBLY ones which are not related to the election as the government will POSSIBLY be focussing on undermining remaining figures linked to the Shinawatra family, meaning that the ban on political parties will remain and will POSSIBLY run for the remainder of the year.
In addition, there will POSSBLY be an increased focus on the Royal Family and more so senior Buddhist figures in light of the recent corruption allegations. Given what has been occurring this week, a Snapshot on the Nation, the Monarchy and Buddhism will be warranted in the near future.
With the continuing ban on gatherings of five or more people, there is a POTENTIAL chance the protests occurring in Chon Buri will be dealt with heavily should they continue; this will be an ironic and possibly embarrassing for the government given its support for the monarchy and the grievances of the protestors. It will be necessary to keep in mind that any protest activities are best avoided.
While more analysis and research will be needed on the illegal logging activities, it is PROBABLE that forest areas along the Thai-Cambodia border are a favourite for illegal loggers. With what has happened in the past â small arms fire incidents or shootings during arrests â these parts of Thailand would best be avoided.
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE. 2017. Thailand [Online]. Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,. Available: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/asia/south-east/pages/thailand.aspx [Accessed 08 October 2017].
JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE. 2017. Global Disaster Alert Coordination System [Online]. Brussels: European Commission. Available: http://dma.jrc.it/map/?application=GDACS [Accessed 06 November 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 06 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017a. Fortnightly Snapshot: Organised Crime in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/03/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Organised-Crime-in-Thailand [Accessed 05 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017b. Fortnightly Snapshot: Thailand’s Flood Hazards. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/04/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Thailands-Flood-Hazards [Accessed 08 September 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017c. Fortnightly Snapshot: Thailand’s Red and Yellow Shirts. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/21/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Thailands-Red-and-Yellow-Shirts [Accessed 25 September 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017d. Post Incident Report: IED Found and Defused in Surkhin District, Narathiwat. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/28/Post-Incident-Report-IED-found-and-defused-in-Surkhin-District-Narathiwat [Accessed 01 Ocotber 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017e. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 22 October 2017. Thailand [Online], 22 October 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/10/22/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 30 October 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017f. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 31October 2017. Thailand [Online], 31 October 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/10/31/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 05 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017g. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 10 October 2017. Thailand [Online], 10 October 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/10/09/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 14 October 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017h. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand – 18 September 2017. Thailand [Online], 16 September 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/17/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 18 September 2017].
NB â For the sake of efficiency and to avoid potential misunderstandings, references mentioning myself or the Intelligence Fusion platform are built upon the collection and logging of incidents based on the combination of numerous open sources such as mainstream media, social media and open source mapping tools.
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